If 1930s fashion advisor Margaretta Byers were to come back to life today, I’m sure she would be upset that hats had gone out of style. Her 1938 book, Designing Women: The Art, Technique, and Cost of Being Beautiful, was extremely popular at the time. In addition to fairly standard advice on the art of illusion (no wide stripes on a wide person, etc.) she paid special attention to hats as an essential element of outfit creation.
Some of her advice sounds like common sense. If you were short, for example, you should wear a tall hat. If you were on the wide side, avoid wide hats.
Other guidelines were more specialized. Not even the tall woman could wear flat hats, according to Byers. Instead she should look to picture hats, short sailor hats, or down-turned brims. The busty woman should aim for medium sized head coverings, avoiding anything matronly.
Just what was a matronly hat? Her advice to older women holds some clues. “Don’t wear deep crowns. They’ll date you as a contemporary of Queen Mary,” she writes. “Don’t wear forbidding bows and feathers. They are old hat.” (63-64) Her number one tip for the no longer young: try a veil.